News

King County Franchise Fee Update

On August 1, 2018, Judge Samuel Chung made an oral ruling granting a summary judgment in favor of the utilities. WRA is waiting on the written ruling and probable appeal by King County. The BOT will decide going forward if there is an appeal to suspend collection of KC RoW Rent until the appeal is over. The original $6.11 will be held in reserve.

Post WUC meeting, Mike Kenyon meet in person with King County Councilwomen Kathy Lambert to discuss Judge Chung’s ruling. She confirmed the Council is waiting for the written ruling and followed by Council’s legal staff recommendations as to the possible appeal.

On September 4th, Judge Chung signed his ruling. The Seattle Times reports that King County plans to appeal to the Washing State Supreme Court. See link for article.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/judge-rejects-king-county-plan-to-charge-utilities-rent-for-use-of-roads/

WUC recommends a letter campaign to King County Executive Dow Constantine mailto:kcexec@kingcounty.gov Main phone: 206-263-9600 Fax: 206-296-0194.  Please let Executive Constantine know no new fees, taxes, rent for Unincorporated King County before Wednesday, October 3rd.   Thank you.

2018 Annual Meeting Election Results

Here are the preliminary results from the 2018 Annual Meeting.  The vendor will be sending the full report of the results early next week.  An attorney will need review options to resolve the interdependence of the four voting items (2.2, 2.2.1, 4.3 and 4.6), one of which did not pass.  Invitations have been emailed to the top vote recipients for the Board and ARC.

TOTAL BALLOTS CAST:   124  (20% of membership)

WRA 2018 Annual Meeting Results

 

KING COUNTY FRANCHISE FEE

The WRA trustees voted to collect a $6.11 fee per member account, per billing cycle, starting in July and is shown as a separate line item on the bi-monthly bill. WRA will hold the collected funds until invoiced by King County. If reduction in fee occurs from King County, the cost reduction will be passed on the membership. Any excess fees collected prior to the reduction or rescinding will be moved to the water reserve fund. More information on this can be found at https://wildernessrim.org/notice-of-king-county-utility-rate-increase/.

Information Concerning the WRA Vendor Consolidation Effort

Q&A

What’s happening?
The WRA board of trustees is consolidating our outsourced services to a single vendor, Agynbyte, an HOA management service company.

Why would the WRA board do that?
Currently, the board outsources most of its services to vendors.  Billing is outsourced to Sallal.  Bookkeeping to another vendor, technology services to another vendor, and the list goes on.  Maintaining the office systems, creating financial reports, updating the website, storing information, etc., is taking considerable time from the volunteer board of trustees, who also have families, jobs, and an assortment of other responsibilities.   Managing the relationships for those services is burdensome and time-consuming.  Each one comes with a different level of insight into what they are doing, and each one has a different process for charging for their services.  Additionally, when something goes wrong, a determination effort must be made to properly address and correct the problems.

By consolidating these services to a single organization, there is one point of contact for everything that is done for us.  Additional tasks will also be absorbed as part of the service, freeing the trustees to better facilitate and manage the needs of the community.

Is this going to cost a lot of money?
No.  The base rate for the management company is less than the sum that we are paying the various individual vendors.  There are fees for the non-standard things we do, such as paper bills and such that will incur additional fees on the part of the Association, but even adding the estimated time and volume of those fees places the expected total in line with current levels of expenditure.  There will be a 3% dues increase in the budget for July 2018 – June 2019 which is $0.25 per month.

Does this mean that the board is handing control of our community away?
No.  The management company will perform tasks at the direction of the board.  Most of these tasks are already outsourced to other vendors.  Some functions that are currently being performed by volunteers will be handed to the management company.  They have professionals who have an average of 20+ years of experience in handling tasks for HOAs.

While the management service will handle the operational aspects of managing our community, it will not take over any decision-making tasks at all.  All decisions will remain with our Board of Trustees.  The service will help the board by assisting in the collection of information needed for the board meetings and will provide a list of decisions it needs the board to make, but the board will be the governing body making the decisions.  The board, obviously, will also continue to make decisions on behalf of the community as needs arise, and the management service will respond to the board’s needs.

You have one point of contact, what about us?

Currently, our office is staffed 3 days a week, for roughly 4-6 hours a day. With the management company, there will be a 24-hour on call point of contact, with a 24-hour service agreement.  Currently, if you call the office on Friday, you might not get a call back until the next Tuesday at the earliest.  For emergencies, such as a water leak, WRA will provide the service with a triage list, and they will immediately contact someone to handle your situation. 

What about our information?

The community’s records will be kept on a secure portal that will be accessible only to our members.  Personal and private information will be secured from outside access and will not be shared or sold.  Detailed records of interaction with the service or the board will be tracked and monitored in a consistent, secure, and persistent manner.

What about our covenants and rules enforcement?

Enforcement of our covenants will be at the direction/discretion of the board, as it is now.  Complaints of violations that the management service receives will be forwarded to the board for advice on how to handle the incidents.  There will not be “covenant patrols” performed by the management service – unless future boards change current practices after seeking legal counsel.

Are we going to have extra fees to pay?

Payment processing will be on a schedule and run professionally.  Most activities will be incorporated into our base rate.

Why is the payment mailing address in Phoenix?

Agynbyte partners with Mutual of Omaha Bank, which is where their clients’ operating funds are. They have a lockbox in Phoenix, Arizona which handles check processing.  Agynbyte’s offices are in Bellevue and Maple Valley.

What are some other benefits?

  1. More professional communication. There will be more formal lines of communication between board and members and members.  Standard processes will be in place that will not change with board turnover.  Complaints, transfers, reservations, suggestions, etc. will be handled professionally and consistently.
  2. Board support. The management company will create agendas, attend meetings, train the board, and advise members.
  3. Standardized financial reporting. WRA will have consistent, timely, and transparent reporting of financial statements.  Tax filings will be on time, and state and federal requirements will be met.

 

What was the process used to select the management company?

The board of trustees conducted a rigorous selection and information gathering process that started with the on-site interview of 3 local and national management companies to discuss the basics of working together with management companies, to learn about common activities and processes, and to share information about our community and get feedback.  Following that meeting, the board developed a formal RFP document with the aid of a standardized template from CAI (Community Associations Institute) along with information we learned during the interviews.  We sent this RFP out to a total of 5 local and national companies, and received detailed and complete responses from 3 of the 5.  After reviewing the proposals, it was clear that there were two front runners from a cost/value and services provided perspective, and the board had reservations about the culture and flexibility of one of those two, which is a large national firm.  Upon narrowing down the list to the top two, and with some reservations about one, we brought the leading proposal in to meet and discuss in person.  We outlined some concerns we had and they worked with us to adjust their proposal to better suit our needs, and we gained confidence in their abilities as well.  Following this meeting the board contacted current customers of this firm to discuss their history and experience, which was very positive, and had their proposed contract reviewed by our attorney in preparation for the Board’s vote on engaging or not.

Why did the Board of Trustees decide to hire a management company without a full membership vote?

The Board discussed this at length on multiple occasions and some of the discussions points are below.  The Board ultimately agreed, although not unanimously, to make a decision now without waiting for a membership vote.

  • The costs associated with hiring a management company are not greater than the current costs for the same services we currently get via multiple vendors and employees
  • Sallal, who provides our Billing and customer service functions under an operating contract has recently decided to terminate that agreement, thus leaving WRA without a viable billing and customer service vendor after the next billing cycle.
  • The board of trustees is run by community member volunteers.  Many volunteers are currently overburdened and conflicts with work and life are leading to likely attrition of some key positions in the short term.
  • The Board of Trustees is governed by the WRA Bylaws, which task the Board, under the Powers and Duties section, to: 3.2.4 The trustees shall manage, oversee, supervise, and control the business affairs of WRA, and make any necessary rules, regulations, policies and procedures consistent with law, the Articles of Incorporation, and these Bylaws to administer the corporation. Whereas the general membership is not involved in the day to day operations of the business affairs, and is not responsible for contributing their time to this task, the decision on how to manage those activities and responsibilities should rest with the board, not the membership.
  • The service to the membership will in most cases be a higher level of service.  It is true that there will be some changes, and change is not always warmly welcomed by everyone, but we believe there will not be a significant negative impact to the majority of the membership in their day to day interactions with HOA.

Still have questions?  Email trustees@wildernessrim.org

Open Letter to Members and Residents

To the Members and Residents of the Wilderness Rim Association,

The Board of Trustees is writing this letter to update you on a couple items related to the management of our Association, the volunteer run Board of Trustees, and the various committees associated with the Board of Trustees.  As you likely are aware, the WRA HOA is self-managed by a volunteer group of 11 trustees, 4 of which hold the 4 officer positions.

The current board is operating with too few volunteers for the amount of work we are hoping to accomplish.  The Board of Trustees (BOT) currently has 2 un-filled seats (which could be filled immediately with volunteers that meet the requirements, according to the HOA bylaws).  Additionally, we are lacking committee chairs for the park committee and the communications committee, and very much need regular contributors to all committees.  Without adequate committee participation, the workload falls to individual trustees or committee members, which is leading to the imminent burnout of some of those members.

Without immediate change, the board is likely to see resignations of trustees, which would likely create difficulty completing basic day-to-day operations of the HOA, including: paying of bills, performing required financial reporting and auditing, preparing the upcoming annual budget, preparing for the upcoming annual meeting, writing articles for the newsletters, submitting water test reports to the Department of Health, ensuring water leaks are fixed, etc.

The board is currently exploring two avenues to address these concerns.

The first, and the main reason for this letter to you, is to try to recruit willing and able volunteers to help run the business of the HOA, either as a trustee or as a committee member.  We are looking for professionals that can maintain a businesslike attitude, and tactfully navigate the environment of running a business that involves friends and neighbors as stakeholders.  We also need these volunteers to have the time available in their lives to commit to attending 1-2 meetings per month, as well as helping out with tasks throughout the week.  As a benefit, the volunteers will be rewarded with valuable experience that can be put on your resume, as well as serving and getting to know your community on a deeper level.

The second option being explored by the BOT, is researching and seeking proposals from professional, 3rd party HOA management companies, that would take over a majority of day-to-day tasks involved with running our HOA.  We have solicited 4 initial proposals so far and have also met in-person with 3 of these companies.  We will be sending out a formal RFP to these companies in the coming weeks.  If the board elects to move to contract with one of these outside companies, this would likely happen early in the next fiscal year, which starts on 7/1/18.  This would very likely impact the annual HOA dues to all members but would also reduce the number of hours required by volunteers on the BOT, as well as likely improve the service level to all members related to various aspects of interacting with the business and community functions of the WRA.

To be clear, the current board does not believe that the status quo is a viable option, and we either need more volunteer manpower and/or we need to move forward in transitioning our self-managed BOT to a 3rd party management partner.   Please consider whether you have the skillset and time to volunteer.  We do understand that volunteering isn’t for everyone, but either way, we do want to hear your thoughts on the topics outlined above.  We are asking for you to please send your thoughts to the WRA BOT via email, to: trustees@wildernessrim.org or via snail mail to: Wilderness Rim Association PO Box 315, North Bend, WA 98045.  Please do not reply to this letter via social media, in-person discussion at the WRA Office, or telephone, as we wish to keep track of all feedback, and we want to ensure we all hear what you have to say.

Thank you,

Your WRA Board of Trustees

Chipping Spots Still Available

It’s not too late to get on the list for free branch chipping through the Firewise program.  Chipping is scheduled for Saturday, April 21, 2018.  Please call the WRA Office at 425.888.0087 or email Firewise@WildernessRim.org with your lot number and contact information.  Chipping is done on a first come-first serve basis.